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Sustainable Beauty: ‘Hermès in the Making’

exhibition Youn Yaelim Jul 09, 2024

SPACE July 2024 (No. 680) 




Exhibition views of ‘Hermès in the Making’. Artisans are showcasing their craftsmanship in front of observing audiences. 






The collections of ‘Petit h’, Hermès’ an art workshop that reworks leftover materials. Artisans and craftsmen at Petit h create unexpected combinations of objects using materials of various colours, tones and textures.



Adopting a serious expression, artisans dye a silk scarf, cut leather gloves, and delicately appliy their hands to repair a bag in front of observing audiences. The exhibition ‘Hermès in the Making’, which showcased the craftsmanship of artisans who have upheld Hermès’ spirit of sustainable design, was held from May 18 to 27 at the LOTTE WORLD Tower World Park Lawn Plaza in Seoul. 


Since its establishment in 1837, Hermès has pursued craftsmanship and humanistic values, presenting objects that explore beautiful materials, embody robust quality, and functional aesthetics. Hermès focuses on producing most of its products in 60 workshops and studios located in France while expanding its network through 249 stores in 45 countries worldwide. Among them, more than 7,000 artisans in France are dedicated to preserving and advancing Hermès’ unique heritage and craftmanship. 


This exhibition was organised to provide a close-up view of Hermès products and the production processes completed by Youn Yaelim Sustainable Beauty: ‘Hermès in the Making’ with such dedication to craftsmanship. The exhibition consists of four sections, ‘Preservation and Inheritance of Craftmanship’, ‘Respect for Materials and Outstanding Quality’, ‘Long-term Effort and Dedication’, ‘Engagement with Community’. The four sections offer various ways for visitors to experience the sturdiness and beauty of Hermès’ objects and to understand how they are created and preserved, through live demonstrations, workshops, and interactive programmes. Artisans representing Hermès’ 16 métiers (product categories) brought their workbenches to life in the exhibition, showcasing their unique tools, materials, and craftsmanship techniques. 


Meanwhile, the exhibition also featured the collection of ‘Petit h’, Hermès’ an art workshop that reworks leftover materials. Located in Pantin, on the outskirts of Paris, this workshop was established in 2010 by Pascale Mussard, a sixth generation descendant of Hermès, to give new values to production leftovers of the finest materials of silk, leather, porcelain, and metal. Godefroy de Virieu, appointed as creative director since 2018, continues to uphold Petit h, Hermès’ sense of creativity and social responsibility. 


The various materials no longer used at various Hermès workshops are sent to Petit h’s material storage room. Artisans and craftsmen at Petit h touch, unfold, and assemble materials of various colours, tones and textures, creating unexpected combinations of objects. Their works are almost a game. A glass bottle ends up with a Kelly bag handle, a crystal saltshaker has a button lid, an umbrella handle and leather are combined to create a new work of kitchen furniture, and sometimes the wood used for a saddle is transformed into an electric guitar. Unfolding pleasant imaginative threads by venturing beyond the stereotypical uses and rules of materials, their work recreates everyday materials that have lost value and transform them into unique objects with completely new uses and forms. By reimagining the use of materials and extending the life of beauty through repair, such work reflects Hermès’ long-held values of identity, craftsmanship, and sustainability.